by Anishka Yerabothu '20
On December 1, 2017, Michael Flynn, former National Security Advisor to President Donald Trump, pleaded guilty to a felony charge of lying to the FBI. He arguably had the shortest tenure of post in U.S. history! He served in office from January 20, 2017 to February 13, 2017. Flynn resigned after it became apparent that he misled Vice President Mike Pence about the nature of his conversations with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian Ambassador to the U.S. On February 13th, the Washington Post reported that the Justice Department informed the White House that Flynn “mischaracterized” the nature of his conversations with Kislyak to such an extent, he had made himself vulnerable to blackmail.
Robert Mueller was investigating the possible collusion of the Russian government and members of the Trump campaign during the 2016 US Presidential Election. Flynn admitted that he had lied to the FBI about the nature of the phone calls with Russian government officials. Later, he agreed to cooperate with Mueller’s investigation.
Barack Obama, President at the time, had just imposed sanctions on Russia for its interference with the 2016 election. Flynn was accused of lying to the FBI about being in contact with Russia right after the Election, attempting to block a UN Resolution condemning Israeli settlements in exchange for removing these sanctions.
Michael Flynn is also suspected of having vested business interests with Russia and Turkey. According to a whistle blower, Flynn texted a business colleague saying that the plan was “good to go.” The “plan” in question was to build nuclear power reactors with the Russians in the Arab world, given that sanctions would be lifted. Moreover, he is alleged to have been part of a discussion to kidnap a Muslim cleric wanted by Turkey, since the U.S. refused to extradite the cleric.
Former FBI Director James Comey testified that Donald Trump had asked him to “go easy” on the investigation into Michael Flynn. Trump tweeted, “I had to fire Flynn because he lied to the Vice President and the FBI. He has pled guilty to those lies. It is a shame because his actions during the transition were lawful. There was nothing to hide!” This tweet is tantamount to admitting obstruction of justice. In response, Trump’s lawyer claimed that he drafted the tweet, not Trump. He claims that the President “cannot obstruct justice because he is the chief law enforcement officer, and has every right to express his views on any case.”
Mueller’s team is investigating potential obstruction of justice when Donald Trump fired James Comey as Director of the FBI. The role of Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is also being investigated as part of the probe into Russian interference. This is a federal investigation that seems to deepen with each passing week. Stay tuned for the next update!